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Reflections with Sammy Way: A glimpse of historic Stateburg

By SAMMY WAY
Archivist and historian
Posted 2/8/20

Reflections visits the Stateburg community, which dates back to the 1700s. The village is on S.C. 261, or the Charleston-Camden Road, which is often referred to as the "back country road." This area was built in part by "wealthy South Carolina …

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Reflections with Sammy Way: A glimpse of historic Stateburg

Posted

Reflections visits the Stateburg community, which dates back to the 1700s. The village is on S.C. 261, or the Charleston-Camden Road, which is often referred to as the "back country road." This area was built in part by "wealthy South Carolina Lowcountry families who built summer homes in the high hills of the Santee." Sherman Smith, historian and former director of the Sumter Museum, referred to Stateburg as one of the more historically significant areas in the state.

Reflections has prepared a series of brief sketches to enlighten our readers of six historic sites which continue to exist in the Stateburg community. The research data and photos used to prepare this document were taken from The Item archives. This is part one, with three of the historic sites featured.

Dixie Hall was located near the King's Highway; the original house was constructed by William Sanders and later enlarged and remodeled by his great-grandson William Sanders IV. Research notes that handhewn beams, 21 inches' square, can still be viewed in the basement. In the interior, a spiral staircase was removed to make room for the sweeping staircase, which remains today. "The kitchen and medical office of Dr. Ashe Alston were located in the back of the house. Dr. Alston married the daughter of the house and moved into the home, where he practiced for years."

"When Gen. Edward E. Potter's detachment of Gen. William T. Sherman's army raided the community in April 1865, a cannon ball smashed into the upstairs piazza. Both the "wound" and the ball were kept for a souvenir of that event by the family for years." The home, originally named Oakland Plantation, was changed to Dixie Hall by Frances P. Alston.

Borough House, one of the oldest houses in Sumter County, was located near the King's Highway. The home "was built sometime in the 1750s on a land grant given to William Hilton." The house was thought to be in the possession of William Bracey and later owned by Adam Brisbane, then came to belong to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hooper in 1792. The home is thought to have been a tavern before the Hoopers owned it. The house was occupied by the British commander, Lord Charles Cornwallis, followed by the Colonial Gen. Nathaniel Greene.

The Borough House is the largest complex of buildings constructed of pise de terre, or "rammed earth," a Spanish and French type of construction utilizing clay which "coheres when clenched in one's fist." "The pise de terre parts of the Borough House are only one story high, however, the Church of the Holy Cross, of the same construction, has walls over 40 feet in height."

The Ruins "was believed to be erected in 1780 on a land grant given to Peter Matthews in 1770. Gen. Thomas Sumter obtained the property in 1784 at a cost of 100 pounds. John Mayrant Sr. (who had been a midshipman on board the Bon Homme Richard under John Paul Jones during the Revolution) bought the property in 1802; his son sold it to Willis W. Alston, a schoolmaster, in 1835. Alston changed the name of the house to Hawthorndean Seminary for Young Ladies. Robert DeVeaux bought the property in 1837. He and his wife, Marion Singleton, called it the Ruins."

The home has recently been restored by the Summervilles and remains a testament to the architectural beauty of that era.